It’s that bittersweet time of year again….back-to-school time! On one hand, it is nice to be getting the kids and ourselves back in a routine. But on the other hand, it’s sad to see another summer come and go. We’ll miss the cool crisp mornings followed by warm carefree days, evenings outdoors, and of course barbecuing.
And while we’ve all enjoyed grilled burgers, veggies and kabobs, there’s also a part of us that starts to yearn for comfort foods this time of year. Soups, casseroles, roasts, and of course using the crock pot for easy, ready-to-eat meals at the end of long days.
Growing up, one of the things I remember about family meals is that my mom would be able to turn last night’s dinner into a whole new concoction for us for the next meal. It was incredible what she would come up with. We’d barely even know that it was the previous night’s pork chops we were eating.
One of my current favorites is having roast one night, then the next night mixing all of the leftover ingredients and gravy together and topping some Country Pasta. This hits two of my favorite cooking techniques – using the crock pot, and repurposing our meals. Can you see a theme to my cooking – it needs to be quick!
To help get you thinking about some repurposed meal ideas of your own, take a look at this list of 65 ideas for leftovers. http://greatist.com/health/leftovers-meals-healthy-recipes
We hope you do some experimenting with your food this winter. Being creative will help to get us through until these long summer days arrive once again.
Enjoy in comfort,
This week, for our 13th Act of Kindness, we gave away over 360 bags of Country Pasta to visitors of Glacier National Park. One of the things we love about where we live is our proximity to Glacier Park, so it seemed only fitting to include the Park in our Acts of Kindness somehow. We chose August 25th because the National Parks were celebrating their 100th Birthday, and Glacier specifically celebrated 99 years as an official National Park.
To say we had a good time would be an understatement. We met folks from at least 30 states and 8 different countries! We were warmly welcomed by the Park staff. We enjoyed ice cream. One of us went swimming. Two of us juggled pasta. We shared our own National Park stories. One of us ran into a server they had met while vacationing in the Virgin Islands! We met new friends. We had a picnic lunch. We had many laughs. And through all of this, we still get to call this “work.”
Throughout this year I continue to feel deep appreciation for the many customers we have who make this all possible. This year and our 25 Acts of Kindness are our way of giving back to each of you. We thank you, and we look forward to continuing to share our appreciation.
C. Warner Smith in the Kitchen
I grew up in a pretty traditional household, where my Mother and paternal Grandmother (who lived with us) did most of the cooking. Breakfasts would often find hot or cold cereal served, lunch sacks filled with PB&J’s and a piece of fruit, and for dinner our plates were filled with a balanced meal. However, Thursday nights were spaghetti nights. The menu consisted of San Giorgio #11 (now called Capellini) topped with my mother’s grandmother’s gravy (aka red sauce) and meatballs.
My father enjoyed this meal – often having seconds if available. But it wasn’t until many years later that I learned how much my Dad really loved pasta and cooking. One day I walked into the kitchen to find him working diligently on something in a big stock pot on the stove. It smelled divine…and the smile on his face was as big as the universe. I tried to mask my surprise that he was cooking and asked, “Dad, what are you making?” Truth be told, I really wanted to say, “Dad, what are you doing?” He turned to me and said “Punk, I am making Chicken Cacciatore.” That pot cooked for hours with my Dad lovingly stirring it throughout the day. And just when I thought his smile could not get any bigger, he dished the deliciousness over the San Giorgio #11 and just beamed.
At 88 years old, it is harder for my Dad to work all day in the kitchen making this dish, but on occasion he will. He shops for all the right ingredients, prepares them for the pot, and stirs with love every hour or so. That smile on his face is still priceless to me when he dishes it up in a big bowl.
Be sure to continue building your memories this year. Wishing a wonderful Father’s Day to all those secret chefs out there.
You know those games where you try to guess the amount of, say, jelly beans in a jar? I think it would be fun to play that trying to guess the number of cookbooks my mom owns. However, would we also count the numerous cooking magazines? Or strictly limit it to actual books? And do we count duplicates? I know she has a few of those, too. Either way, I would love to know a total, but would not even have a clue how many to guess!
The funny thing about all these cookbooks is that, while I know she’s read and used many of the recipes, my guess is that she has rarely followed the directions. She is the type of person who throws in a handful of this or a dollop of that, and it always turns out delicious! We learned to eat a lot of whatever we really liked at mealtimes, because as she self admits, it never tastes the same twice.
She does not only use her cookbooks in the kitchen. While some people might read novels at night, she will read cookbooks. All these books she has can be found here and there throughout her house, sometimes with tissue marking the page of a good recipe, or maybe a dollar bill here and there. Whatever was convenient when she needed to be able to find that great recipe again.
Food has always been a big part of our family, and is the way my mom shows her love. Cooking for friends, family, those in need – she enjoys warming hearts and filling bellies with her creative concoctions.
I know some of my mom’s most treasured items are the recipes she will find of my grandmother’s or friends from years ago. The handwritten list of ingredients and instructions, usually with some butter, chocolate or another item dripped on them.
This Mother’s Day, take a moment to look through your recipe books and cards. Maybe write out what your favorite recipe is today, and put it in a place where your children may one day stumble upon it and be able to think back to their childhood favorites. Food is often what connects us to both the past and the future. Continue to grow that bridge.
Wishing you a wonderful, delicious Mother’s Day!
As many of you know, 2015 marks Country Pasta’s 25th year of business, and you may have seen that we started the year by purchasing a local shopper’s groceries for her as our first of 25 Acts of Kindness. I wanted to share with you a little more about this concept and why we are doing it.
To be quite honest, I stole the idea from another company I heard was celebrating their 60th year in business last year. Upon first hearing about this, I thought it was a great concept, and one I thought was worth jumping on board with.
At the supermarket today, consumers are overwhelmed with product options to choose from. One of the most interesting things to me lately has been the multiple options of the same item, just in different sizes. Does anyone know how many different ways you can purchase a candy bar these days? You have regular size, king size, fun size, miniatures, bite size…did I even get them all? We recognize that you have many options to select from, and we greatly appreciate 25 years of support for Homemade Style Country Pasta products. In an effort to give back to our customers, we are coming up with 25 ways that we can say thanks, while have fun doing it!
In addition to surprising shoppers by purchasing their groceries, we have also donated to food banks, and have plans to give pasta away, Montana themed items away, and are launching one of our big acts of the year, which is a Montana trip give-away. One lucky customer and their guest will win a trip for two to Montana to enjoy the beauty of this area we get to call home – including a boat cruise around Flathead Lake, a visit to our headquarters, a trip to Glacier National Park, and many more fun activities.
So we look forward to continuing our 25 Acts and we hope you will have as much fun with this as we plan to. And once again, we thank you for being a valued customer. Here’s to the next 25!
I must have been destined to be in the food industry. I remember Christmas as a kid, and the one gift that stands out above the amazing child size doll, cool miniature television, or fun Popeye video game that annoyed the entire family in the car on our trip to North Dakota, is a container of my grandmother’s homemade applesauce that I got to have all to myself. This standard menu item for our holiday gatherings was a favorite among the entire family. What I didn’t like was only getting a tablespoon or two each time. So one year when Grandma Vi wrapped up a container – I believe it was the old yellow margarine plastic container – of this delicacy for me and only me, I was ecstatic! Still today I remember how her special applesauce tasted, and it takes me back in time to the holiday dinners with our whole family.
I’m sure many people have their favored holiday recipes – cookies, fudge, soup mixtures, and of course applesauce – and what a treasure it is to be the recipient of those delicious concoctions. The concept of giving food as gifts is something that has become a big business – Hickory Farms, Edible Arrangements Bouquets, Omaha Steaks…heck, my mom once sent a full lobster dinner to friends in North Dakota!
In today’s world, it is often quite challenging to decide what gifts to give. Colleagues, friends, bosses – we all are inundated with many consumer items each and every day, and it’s difficult to make that kind of decision. One thing that is constant for everyone, however, is food. So I say take some time and bake up some goodies, blend your own mix of pancakes or cookies, or get out the old apple strainer and red hots (that’s the secret ingredient in case you were wondering), go to work then package your delicacies with a nice bow. Or in an old margarine container. Your gift recipients will savor your gift and be happy they don’t need to find space for another gadget.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Wishing you all a fun, safe and delicious holiday season.